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What War On Cops?

What War On Cops?

Pundits Created False Narrative on Violence Against Police

War on the police!

In 2016 we heard from media talking heads, politicians and police chiefs around the nation that there was a war on police officers. They all said that officer deaths due to gunfire were up dramatically, therefore proving that there was a war on police, right?


What the media, chiefs and politicians didn’t tell us was they were only comparing two years, 2016 with 2015. The comparison showed a 56 percent increase in police deaths by gunfire from 2015 as compared with 2016.

The problem is that a one-year comparison is not a scientific review; it’s hysteria.

This dumbing down of statistics served a purpose during the presidential election of making Americans believe that one political party supported police while the other didn’t. Had the media done its job, had citizens been better informed, a scientific review would have produced a much different picture.

And why don’t we hear anything now from these same people who fanned the fires of fear? Could it be because in 2017 officer deaths from gunfire are down 33 percent compared to 2016? You don’t hear that on the 6 o’clock news, but it’s the truth.

I researched all police officer deaths from gunfire across the country from 1960 through 2016. You can find the information at the Officer Down Memorial Page.

What I discovered doesn’t fit with what we were being told by the press and politicians.

Line graph showing trend of police deaths from 1960 to 2016

Data received from Officer Down Memorial Page (omdp.org) on 4/10/2017

Four eras become apparent. The first was from 1960 to 1966 where officer deaths hovered around 60 per year, a remarkable number given the poor Emergency Service System (EMS) during this time.

From 1967 to 1982 there was a tremendous spike in the number of officers gunned down. During this time over 100 officers died, yearly, from violent acts. Some years this number spiked to 140 deaths. The Vietnam war, social unrest, lack of body armor, poor EMS and the horrible economy of the late 1970s may have accounted for the high number of violent deaths.

From 1983 (when I joined APD) to 1994, the number of officers murdered dropped dramatically, hovering around an average of 75 officers a year. During this time body armor became more affordable, training became better and first responders were better equipped and trained to save lives.

Finally, the current, and longest era, from 1995 to 2016, has seen some of the lowest numbers of officers murdered, averaging around 60 a year. The last 21 years have been some of the safest for police officers. You didn’t hear that in last year’s media circus.

The mainstream media, especially the right-wing media, would have you believing that President Obama’s tenure in office (2008 to 2016) had seen a huge spike in violent crime directed at police officers. Yet the opposite is true. In fact, 2013 saw the lowest number of officers murdered—31— in the last 56 years! Who gets credit for that? And why weren’t you told?

If Obama was such a catalyst for violence against our police, why are the deaths during his time as president among the lowest in half a century? Could it be that the media hasn’t been telling you the truth? Could it be that the politicians and police chiefs are creating a fake crisis? Could it be that half of the country hated the black guy in the White House and therefore truth and facts be damned? So long as the false story fits their personal beliefs, they need nothing more to be scared and angry.

In the last 30 years the influx of high-capacity weapons would make you think that the number of officers killed by gunfire would have increased dramatically, but it hasn’t. High-capacity pistols and rifles have been easily available for three decades now, yet officers deaths have gone down, not up. This is a compelling fact that needs more research as to why.

Make no mistake, law enforcement is still a dangerous job with a lot of stress. But it isn’t as dangerous as those in power would lead us to believe. It is also very satisfying and fulfilling when done correctly.

There are many reasons why officer deaths have dropped since 1975. I wish that the media, politicians and police chiefs would research the facts and stop with the emotional manipulation.

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Dan Klein

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque police sergeant. Reach him via Facebook and Twitter via @dankleinabq.

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